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Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Nite Retro

Gooooood evening Aboite! It's Friday night and that can only mean one thing - well. . .your results may vary, but around here it means that it's time for Friday Nite Retro! Tonight we're featuring one of the most popular acts of the 1980's, but before we get to their successes, let's find out where they came from. . .

In 1972, a new singer/harmonica player, and new keyboardist Sean Hopper joined the Bay Area jazz-funk band Clover. Clover would record several albums in the 1970s, and in the middle of the decade transplanted themselves to England to become part of the UK pub rock scene for a time. Hopper made the journey with the rest of the band, and they eventually became the backing band for Elvis Costello's first album "My Aim Is True". The band returned to the Bay Area by the end of the 1970s, reuniting with the singer they'd left behind.

Clover's main competition in the Bay Area jazz-funk scene was a band called Soundhole, whose members included drummer Bill Gibson, saxophonist/guitarist Johnny Colla, and bassist Mario Cipollina. Like Clover, Soundhole had spent time backing a famous singer, Van Morrison.

After getting a singles contract from Phonogram Records in 1978, our soon to be famous singer united with bandmate Hopper, and three of his former rivals to form a new group, Huey Lewis & The American Express. In 1979 they recorded, and released a single "Exo-Disco" (a disco version of the theme from the film Exodus) that was largely ignored. In 1979, the band would woo guitarist Chris Hayes and move to Chrysalis Records. After the credit card organization American Express complained, in January 1980 they changed their name to Huey Lewis & the News.

Later in 1980, the band issued their first album, a self-titled LP "Huey Lewis & the News". It went largely unnoticed. However in 1982, the band released their second album, the self-produced "Picture This" which shortly thereafter turned gold, fueled by the breakout success of the hit single "Do You Believe in Love", written by former Clover producer Mutt Lange. Largely because of the single, the album remained on the Billboard charts for 35 weeks and peaked at #13. Several other singles from "Picture This" followed with only limited success, though the video "Workin' For a Livin'" received considerable airplay on MTV and HBO's Video Jukebox.

Do You Believe in Love?

Workin' for a Livin'

Due to record label delays on the release of their third album, "Sports", Huey and the boys were back to square one in late 1983, touring small clubs in a bus to promote the record. It initially hit #6 in the U.S. when first released. The album slowly became a number-one hit in 1984 and went on to multi-platinum success in 1985, thanks to the band's frequent touring and a series of clever, funny videos that received heavy MTV airplay. Four singles from the album would reach the Billboard Top Ten: "Heart and Soul", "I Want a New Drug", "The Heart of Rock & Roll", and "If This Is It"

Heart And Soul

I Want a New Drug

The song "I Want a New Drug" was parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic as "I Want a New Duck".

I Want a New Duck

Heart of Rock and Roll

If This Is It

Walking on a Thin Line was written about the VietNam war.

Walking On A Thin Line

Their song "The Power Of Love" was a number-one U.S. hit and featured in the 1985 film Back to the Future, with which they also recorded the theme song "Back In Time". Huey Lewis has a cameo appearance in the film as a faculty member who rejects Marty McFly's band's audition for the school's "Battle of the Bands" contest — ironically, the piece the band plays is an instrumental version of "The Power of Love" (Lewis's response: "Sorry, guys... you're just too darn loud").

Power of Love

Back in Time

n 1984, Huey Lewis & the News were contacted by the producers of Ghostbusters in regards to developing the theme song for the film. The band decided not to, and Ray Parker Jr. was instead signed to develop the theme. Later that year, the band sued Parker, citing the similarities between the Ghostbusters theme song and their earlier hit "I Want a New Drug". According to Huey Lewis and the News, this was especially damaging to them since the Ghostbusters theme song was so popular, rising to #1 on the charts for three weeks. Parker and Lewis later settled out of court. Lewis has stated that his experiences with the producers of Ghostbusters may have been indirectly responsible for getting his band involved with the movie Back to the Future.

On his 2001 Behind the Music special, Lewis stated: "The offensive part was not so much that Ray Parker Jr. had ripped this song off, it was kind of symbolic of an industry that wants something — they wanted our wave, and they wanted to buy it. ... it's not for sale. ... In the end, I suppose they were right. I suppose it was for sale, because, basically, they bought it." As a result of this statement, Ray Parker Jr. has filed a suit against Huey Lewis, claiming he violated the lawsuit's confidentiality agreement and seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney fees. The lawsuit is ongoing.

Stuck with you

The single "Hip To Be Square" was featured in a scene from the film American Psycho (2000) in which the character Patrick Bateman, played by Christian Bale, plays the song while rambling on about the band and murders a business acquaintance at the same time, whereas in the novel, a whole chapter is devoted to Huey Lewis & The News, where Bateman gives his opinion on the band in very great detail. In the film, he mistakenly says that "Fore!" was released in 1987.

Hip to be Square

Jacob's Ladder

Doing It All For My Baby

The band continues to tour to this day, although the lineup has changed significantly since their heyday. Dave Toomey and Mario Cipollina left the band shortly after 1994's Four Chords and Several Years Ago album and tour. His replacement since that time has been bassist John Pierce. The Tower of Power, which served as the band's horn section from the early 80's, also ceased their work with the band in 1994. Marvin McFadden, Ron Stallings, and Rob Sudduth have joined the group in their place.

In early 2000, Chris Hayes decided to leave "The News" to spend more time with his growing family, though he performed on their 2001 album "Plan B," as much of it had been laid out before he left. Afterwards, Stef Burns replaced him, although guitarist Tal Morris has also filled in when Stef has had to leave due to other commitments. Chris has occasionally appeared with the band when playing in the San Francisco Bay Area and is known to play some shows with other performers and friends in the San Francisco area.

You can visit their unofficial fan site here. I'd forgotten just how much music these guys had put out! I hope you enjoyed tonight's journey "back in time" as much as I did!

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